Just Another Dead Venue: Endtimes at The Cave

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” — Hunter S. Thompson

I left The Cave at 1AM on Saturday night (Sunday morning) feeling bereft of self-worth. I don’t have the words to convey to you what I really mean by that. It’s only as terrible as you think it is and I don’t care what you think. Sometimes I write in BIG LETTERS TRYING TO MAKE WORDS MAKE SENSE BUT

today I can’t describe anything. Instead I’m just making noise, expelling my innards for you to see and click away. Yes this is my

I do not have a long-standing history with The Cave. Unlike the rest of the Durham Beat staff, I am not native to these parts. I left my city after watching my stomping grounds shutter their doors when their rent became too high, or after having refused to be bought out by corporate interests who said, “sell or else.” I have watched venues die. I have seen the corporatization of local. I have witnessed the tide of gentrification wash away staples of a community. I have been as powerless then as I am now to do much of anything but continue to trek onward. So trek I shall. Onward is the only realistic direction and if I am anything at all, then at least I am real.

My coverage of the funeral at The Cave was intended to be live. It started off that way, following up on my word to do the Twitter and Instagram thing. But then my phone died. It died shortly after the disappointing opening sets who had occasion to play on this most eulogistic of nights. The following sets from No One Mind, sister,brother, and Lud were quite good. sister,brother was particularly excellent, despite the mic cutting out during part of the set. Every time I see this band play I become more enamored of them. I won’t bother with the pretentious breakdown of their sound though. They are loud. They are raw. They will make you want to burn things. That’s all you’re getting from me today.

Just another dead venue, indeed. The Cave closes its doors after a finale on Monday night, April 30, 2018. In their statement announcing their impending doom, they said they were unable to find any buyers willing to keep it going as it had been. Having originally opened its doors in 1968, the venue has served a half century of local music and PBR to their community. It was a good run.

I met a couple who came out to the show to say goodbye. They told me they had met there 18 years earlier and are now married with children. They pointed to the exact spot in the back room where they had encountered each other for the very first time over a game of pool. It was just a floor space to me but to them it was something special, something they will never be able to point to again and say, “this is where it happened.” Moments like this one are what make small venues and dive bars and local hangouts so special. Sure, people meet for the first time everywhere all the time, and not necessarily at a little hole in the ground with a low ceiling and no cell service. But that doesn’t change what The Cave has meant to the people who have descended that front stairwell, played on that stage, scribbled something on those bathroom walls, or tripped on that uneven floor.

Its closing is a profoundly sad moment for many people. For me, it is a solemn reminder of the impermanence of places that go out of their way to support their local creative community. Yes, I have watched venues die. Often they end with a processional of familiar local talent, like The Cave has done: funeral week. There will be no unceremonious end from them. There will be no whimper. What will remain of The Cave after it passes into local legend are the enduring sounds of all the bands who ever played there. And that is something special.

Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this piece, The Cave came under new management and will reopen this summer, 2018. A Phoenix rising…